A Book Spy Review: ‘Leave No Trace’ by Mindy Mejia

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Leave no TraceTen years ago, nine-year-old Lucas Blackthorn and his father, Josiah, made their way into the Boundary Waters, an area with hundreds of miles of glacial lakes and untouched forests, and then seemingly vanished. 

At the time, authorities speculated that Lucas and his father were the victims of a bear attack, which apparently ransacked their makeshift camp. With nothing else to go on, the father-son duo was presumed dead. As the months passed, search teams gave up and media interest eventually lost steam and died out. Within a year of their disappearance, the world seemed to have forgotten about Lucas and Josiah. 

Then, a decade later, everything changed. . . 

In the present day, a nineteen-year-old man is arrested while trying to rob an outfitter store. For police, the encounter is strange. The man, who is very violent and uncooperative, is also uncommunicative. Questioning the man’s sanity, the authorities place him under a psychiatric hold at Congdon Psychiatric Facility in Duluth, Minnesota. It’s here where readers meet twenty-three-year-old Maya Stark, a newly-minted speech therapist, who narrates the story. Still relatively new to the job, Maya is surprised when Dr. Mehta tasks her with trying to break the silent young man who has since been identified as Lucas Blackthorn. 

From the get-go, things are dicey. Maya has no initial success pulling secrets out of Lucas, and things only worsen when he attempts to escape the facility. As the story unfolds, though, readers discover that Lucas isn’t the only one with deep, dark secrets. It turns out that years back, Maya herself did something that landed her in the very same mental health treatment facility she now works at. As her questionable past is brought to life, the layers simultaneously begin to fall away from Lucas, who is revealed to need Maya’s help in a big way. 

Mindy Mejia knows how to build suspense, and has timed every twist and turn perfectly, constantly raising the stakes for her characters. Maya and Lucas are both mysterious and well-developed, and their chemistry is palpable. It’s Maya’s own flawed past, full of questionable decisions, that opens the door for her to feel empathetic towards Lucas when everyone else thinks he’s gone mad. It’s his reasoning, motives, and journey to find answers that drive the story forward, but Mejia has plenty of surprises built around her lead character too, as Maya’s ethics, reasoning, and decision-making are called into question. 

Mindy Mejia kicks things up a notch, delivering another nail-biting page-turner that grabs you early and never lets go . . .  Leave No Trace is her best thriller yet, and the Boundary Waters setting is fitting because this story twists and turns its way into one wild, rip-roaring adventure that’s perfect for anyone craving nonstop suspense.

Book Details

Pages: 336 (Hardcover)
ISBN: 1501177362
Publisher: Atria/Emily Bestler Books
Release Date: September 4, 2018
Book Spy Rating: 8.5/10

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Praised as “one of today’s finest book reviewers” by New York Times bestselling author Gayle Lynds, Ryan Steck (“The Godfather of the thriller genre” — Ben Coes) has “quickly established himself as the authority on mysteries and thrillers” (Author A.J. Tata). He currently lives in Southwest Michigan with his wife and their six children.

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